St Maximilian Kolbe, Martyr

Deuteronomy 24.10-22; Ps 147; Matt 17.22-27

Maximilian (1894-1941) was born of a German father and a Polish mother. He grew up an extraordinarily devout child. He joined the Conventual Franciscans in 1907. During World War I his father was arrested for fighting for Polish independence from the Russian empire and was hanged as a traitor.

Maximilian was sent to Rome where he earned a doctorate in philosophy. He was ordained a priest and he returned to newly-independent Poland in 1919 where he taught in the seminary in Krakow. In 1927 he founded a new Conventual Franciscan monastery at Niepokalanow, near Warsaw. Between 1930 and 1936 he went on a number of missionary trips to China, Japan and India.

In 1939 the town of Niepokalanow was captured by the Germans. In February 1941 the monastery was closed and Kolbe and four others were arrested. In May he was transferred to Auschwitz. In response to an escape attempt the guards chose ten prisoners to be starved to death. When one of those chosen, Franciszek Gajowniczek, cried out, Maximilian volunteered to take his place. He was killed by an injection of carbolic acid on 14th August.

Posted in Daily Reflection.